September 8, 2009
Merry Un-Birthday Party

My dad is turning 60 this year, and we wanted to throw him a party while all three of us children of his were in town for a visit – a rare thing, in and of itself, with our habitats spread from the east coast to the Rocky Mountains! The timing fell in the beginning of September – nearly 3 months before his actual birthday. As I planned the event, I couldn’t help thinking of Alice in Wonderland’s mad tea party, featuring the “Merry Un-Birthday” song, and used the idea of a colorful, festive tea party as inspiration for a soiree suitable for my old man and his guests (ranging in age from 4 months to 65 years!) in my parents’ country home.

The goal was a festive occasion without a lot of fuss for my parents, who were looking forward to the rare time with all their kids and grand-kids. So, I created bright-colored invitations, asking the guests to take part in a potluck by bringing an entree to share – that way reducing the cooking and preparation time for my parents. Then, I baked shortbread cookies, almond biscotti, and a white layer cake with cream cheese frosting topped in berries (all recipes from The day of the party, I picked flowers from my parents’ gardens, and arranged them in assorted teapots. I brewed sassafras tea, iced it, made it sparkling by adding cream soda, and topped it with a scoop of Honey Hut vanilla ice cream for root-beer-flavored gourmet mini-floats. I also concocted St. Germain cocktails, using the elderflower liqueur and Prosecco for a Happy-Birthday-singing toast.

The party was a hit, despite having to take cover from the rain (we simply moved the party indoors after we ate dinner, when the rain began to fall). My 3-year-old niece was the highlight of the evening, when she ran over to my dad’s cake and blew out the candles before he had a chance to do it himself.

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